New SRU president Dee Bradbury recognises the historic achievement of becoming the first woman to reach such a position in a leading rugby nation but hopes that it will be her abilities that shine through during her two-year tenure rather than her gender.
As Bradbury’s election as president, following a two-year stint as vice-president, was ratified at Saturday’s AGM, taking over from the outgoing Rob Flockhart, she spoke of being humbled and also proud of the signal it sends about Scottish rugby’s embrace of diversity and inclusion.
After the meeting she spoke to the media and was adamant that she views her job now as more than just a trailblazing blazer.
“As I’ve said before I’m not going to stand up like Germaine Greer,” she said. “That’s not the reason why I’m here. I’m here because I hope I’ve got the qualities to bring to the role and it’s incidental that I’m female.
“However, 33 per cent of our staff at Scottish Rugby are females. We’ve got far more representation on Council and Board from females. I would like to think women are there for the right reasons not simply because of their gender.”
The former Oban Lorne president reflected on the journey that had taken her from her first exposure to women’s rugby at the age of 38 to Saturday’s momentous elevation.
“I always had a background in sport, netball and athletics,” she explained. “I was at Mull Sevens one year when I was 38 and I thought I need that in my life. So I spoke to a girl I played netball with, who was Jonah Lomu’s cousin believe it or not, she had come to Scotland as a backpacker, and we set up the ladies section and it went from strength to strength.
“I did all the different roles at the club, washing strips, driving mini-buses, coaching the minis. Then I was asked to join the women’s forum here and progressed through the ranks to where I find myself today.”
Bradbury played rugby as captain and prolific tryscorer for ten years. She is married to Nick and has two rugby-playing sons, Fergus and the Edinburgh and Scotland back-row forward Magnus.
Bradbury was a universally acclaimed good story on Saturday but she was given a clear view of the testing job ahead as issues such as the fallout from Keith Russell’s successful unfair dismissal case, the use of non-disclosure agreements the ongoing debate surrounding Super 6 and a review into a new governance structure, were all aired at the meeting.
“I’m not going to give any specific targets but I believe we heard today about the progress we’ve made,” she insisted. “We [Scotland] are real world contenders now. I want to secure that progress and be part of it moving forward.
“[That will be done] exactly as we saw today – a democratic process, listening, reaching out to clubs.”
Bradbury foresees herself as “very much a contributor” to the reviews now under way into the Russell saga, NDAs and governance.
“I’m here as chair of Council and Council represents the stakeholders. I would like to have a meaningful input into that,” she said.
“If I’m perfectly honest, we discussed at the last standing committee for governance, the need to modernise Dunlop [the report which led to the current structure in 2005], to have something that was fit for the modern era. We have already touched on that. I don’t want to hypothesise on that, the discussions will be what they’ll be and out of that we’ll implement something that is more suitable for the modern era.”
After winning his case, Russell spoke out about a “toxic” culture at Murrayfield, something which Bradbury refutes.
“I’ll be perfectly honest, I don’t recognise any of that,” she said.
“I’ve been part of Scottish rugby from the periphery, as a player, a coach, through to where I am today.
“If that culture existed I wouldn’t want to be part of that. And I very much do want to be part of it, which I think is evidence.
“That apology [made by Flockhart at the AGM] was for the place we got ourselves into. The clubs were entitled to some humility and that’s what we’ve displayed.”